By Kiran Kishor Galani
Over the past few years, the growth of stand-up comedy in India has been phenomenal. From having a highly limited comedy scene that was mostly restrained to half-hearted reality shows on television that employed the same stream of jokes over and over again, India now has an evolving comedy scene that comprises an entire industry. People are now getting far more serious about it, especially now that they are realising there is money and fame in comedy. Big comedians are making lakhs off one gig, and are getting opportunities to become YouTube stars and movie actors through it and all of this has impacted the way that this landscape has evolved.
An important aspect of this trend is that people have started taking comedians very seriously and these comedians have become integral to the political and social commentary of the nation. Comedy is the new wave of entertainment and everyone wants to ride on the wave, be it the corporates, pubs, hotels, event organisers, etc. There are far more avenues opening in this industry, and hold plenty of opportunity for everyone.
What’s the background?
While comedy has always existed across both India and the world in some form or the other, certain changes in the recent times has made it a far more influential source of information and commentary.
In India itself, the stand-up comedy scene isn’t exactly a groundbreakingly new thing, people like Raju Srivastava and Johnny Lever have always been involved in it and stand-up comedy, by its basic characteristics, is usually a commentary on something or the other. What has changed more in recent times is the fact that it has evolved a lot more as an industry as a whole and also the platforms on which people access it.
The All India Bakchod (AIB) comedy company were integral in the story of how this form of comedy has been popularised in India. For one, they were one of the first fully-fledged companies to be involved in the comedy business, Secondly, the controversial nature of some of their first few videos, especially the roast of Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor, resulted in overblown outrage across the nation which lead to one of the best instances of “All publicity being good publicity” seen. This resulted in a lot more people across India becoming aware of this new avenue of comedy and entertainment that they could explore, and hence was integral in the blowing up of this stand-up comedy scene.
How did it happen?
A major aspect of the way the stand-up comedy scene in India has blown out over the past few years is that we have been fortunate enough to have had an evolved Facebook and YouTube platform that allowed the genre to grow and expand much faster than what has been witnessed anywhere else in the world. Social media has allowed the newer generations to easy access to these comedians while simultaneously providing these comedians with a platform through which they can easily reach their target audience.
The blowout of this genre also resulted in the industry evolving a lot in several different directions. Big cities started having open mic events and stand-up comedy clubs have popped up across the nation. All these factors combined have led stand-up comedy to become an indisposable aspect of the Indian entertainment landscape.
Why does it matter?
With the evolution of stand-up comedy, these shows now address a large number of issues that are integral to the lives of the youth in our country. They manage to grip the attention of the audience and provide a refreshing new perspective on issues that wouldn’t otherwise engage people that easily. Besides, the easy dissemination of this media through social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube ensure that the videos reach a large number of people and hence have a widespread impact with their content and commentary.
What’s the future outlook?
The new generations of youth in India seem to be highly interested in political and social issues around them, and perhaps a part of this interest stems from the interestingly presented content they find online. Stand-up comedy is certainly an integral part of this content and from the way it’s evolving, it seems like it’s here to stay. Humour appeals to everyone’s basic interests and it will be interesting to see the direction this brilliant new strategy takes in the future.
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